Editor’s note: This post has been updated with updated prices and links 06-21-19
One of my family’s yearly summer activities was camping. My dad was a big fan of tent camping – he believed that camping out in an RV, such as a travel trailer or camper, was not really camping. We visited nearly every state park in Indiana. Or did we end up visiting all of them? I don’t remember. I’ll have to ask my Dad! It was one of his personal goals to visit them all.
My aunt, on the other hand, was a firm believer in camping out in a camper. She had a truck and a fifth wheel camper and she traveled all over the US, and even ventured into Canada, for her camping excursions. On several lucky occasions, she invited me to go along with her and her daughter, Toni. My grandma went, too, on at least one trip. My cousin Toni, a couple of years older than me, was always thrilled to share the experience with me and we headed straight for the park’s stables to ride the horses as often as possible. We even had a song about riding horses that we made up that we sang as we walked the trails to the stables.
Those camping days are some of my best childhood memories. Unlike my Dad, I loved both tent camping and RV camping. Either way there was a crackling campfire and a table for playing cards and eating outdoor cooked meals. There was clear, clean air that was filled with the essence of lakes, grasses, leaves, flowers, and adventure. There were camping neighbors with guitars and stories. Best of all, there was the beautiful expanse of woods, creeks, lakes, hiking trails, bicycle paths, and fascinating bugs, birds, and animals.
We did have a raccoon that terrorized our camping site one year, but that is another story.
I encourage you to experience this on your own or with your family, especially if you have kids. If you already own camping gear or can borrow it, the cost is very low.
National Parks Free Admission Days
In 2019, there are five days where admission is free to all National Parks. The days are: January 21, April 20, August 25, September 28, and November 11.
For more information visit the US National Park Service Site.
The savings will vary, since entrance fees will vary by park. For example, the entrance fee to the Grand Canyon National Park is $35.00 for a vehicle or $20.00 for an individual on foot or bicycle. Yellowstone National Park has similar fees, including the motorcycle entrance fee of $30.00. In Michigan, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore entrance fee is $25.00 per vehicle or $15.00 per adult on foot.
In addition, 268 of the 401 National Parks do not charge an admission fee, so you can visit these parks anytime for little or no cost.
Note that you will still pay any camping fees or other regular fees during the free admission days.
List of National Parks that Offer Free Admission Days
A list of all the National Parks that are eligible for the national parks free admission days as well as the regular park entrance fees can be seen at the National Parks Blog.
You can also see a list of participating parks for the free entrance days at the nps.gov site – Free Entrance Days – Participating Parks by State
Complete list of all National Parks
Here is a link to a complete list of all the National Parks. I was not able to find a list of all of the parks that do not have a regular entrance fee, but you should be able to find information on any national parks that interest you by starting there.
Free admission days are offered every year by published schedule. Just check the above links for the new schedule.
Activities at the National Parks
You can download a free guide to the National Parks.
Besides being an awesome photo opportunity, the parks offer hiking, boating, kayak tours, nature lessons, historic sites and tours, festivals, concerts, railroad train rides, apple picking, and of course, camping.
Here is a link to a list of some of the activities offered at various parks.
If you like the experience, an annual National Park pass is a bargain at $80.00. This pass is free for US military members and their dependent families.
US citizens age 62 or over can get a lifetime pass for $80.00. ($90.00 if ordered by mail.)
Whether free or at a reduced price, a visit to a state or national park is a rich experience that makes for lifetime memories.
The gorgeous photos are courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and photographers wiangya and prozac1.